July 11 Montana News Briefs

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rescue crews search for missing man at Glacier National Park

KALISPELL (AP) — Officials are searching for a Montana man who went missing in Glacier National Park. The Daily Inter Lake reports 66-year-old Mark Sinclair of Whitefish was last seen on the Highline Trail on Monday afternoon. Rescue crews searched by ground and air for Sinclair on Wednesday. Park workers at the Logan Pass Visitor Center saw Sinclair leave his keys and dog at his vehicle at the center’s parking lot. Park officials say search efforts were continuing Thursday.

Proposal seeks lead testing for water in all Montana schools

BILLINGS (AP) — A proposed update to state health rules would require all Montana schools to test their water for lead. The Billings Gazette reported Wednesday that lead testing is among the updated health and facilities rules sought by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. The health department says lead is “a neurotoxin that can accumulate in the body over time with long lasting effects, particularly for children.” Most Montana schools are not required to test water for lead unless they effectively operate their own water systems. Some state education leaders express concerns the rules exceed what schools can implement and have signed a letter requesting an extension of the proposal’s public comment period. The letter says the proposal “will have major fiscal and administrative impacts on schools, including unfunded mandates.”

Man gets 12 years on drug charge

KALISPELL (AP) — A Montana man who escaped a deliberate homicide charge after prosecutors said they no longer had a “viable case” has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for dealing methamphetamine. The Flathead Beacon reports James Quen, of Martin City, was sentenced in Missoula on Wednesday. He pleaded guilty in March to the drug charge, three months after Flathead County prosecutors dropped the homicide charge days before his trial. Quen was accused of shooting 33-year-old Bradley Winters to death in Hungry Horse in April 2018. His attorney planned to argue self-defense, but the charge was dismissed after prosecutors say a key witness refused to cooperate. Quen was accused of buying meth in Oregon and bringing it to northwest Montana for distribution in 2017.

Keystone pipeline opponents again seek to block construction

BILLINGS (AP) — Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline asked a judge to again block construction of the $8 billion project after President Donald Trump issued it a new permit. Attorneys for environmental groups made the request Wednesday in a lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana. They say Trump’s permit was illegal. The 1,184-mile (1,900-kilometer) pipeline proposed by TC Energy would carry crude oil from Canada to Nebraska. Opponents contend it would make climate change worse by increasing fossil fuel consumption. Morris temporarily blocked construction last year, saying officials had not fully considered oil spills and other impacts. That ruling was upheld on appeal, only to have Trump issue a new permit in March. Government attorneys say that permit is not subject to environmental laws. They want the lawsuit dismissed.

Recovering Montana trooper has surgery after shooting

MISSOULA (AP) — The wife of Montana Highway Patrol trooper who was shot three times says he successfully completed another surgery. Lindsey Palmer said Wednesday in a statement released by the Montana Department of Justice that Wade Palmer underwent a procedure June 17 to repair his skull. She says her husband no longer needs to wear a helmet to protect his head. Wade Palmer is still unable to speak, but he is making improvements in other forms of communication. Palmer was shot while searching for the suspect in a March 14 shooting in Missoula that killed one person and injured two others, one of whom later died. The wife of the survivor, Casey Blanchard, says he is expected to begin physical therapy and have surgery to remove shrapnel. Johnathan Bertsch has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide.

US lawmakers on northern border want grain rules addressed

BILLINGS (AP) — Republican senators along the northern U.S. border are asking officials to address grain in the trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The Billings Gazette reported Wednesday that U.S. lawmakers from Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota sent a letter to the chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. trade representative, calling for an agreement that creates a more level playing field for wheat producers. Canada controls the value of its wheat by limiting the number of varieties it accepts. Montana farmers do not grow varieties on Canada’s list, so wheat from the state has not moved freely across the border.